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TIPS FOR SHIPPING ORIGINAL PAINTINGS OR PHOTOGRAPHS

Published February 6, 2020 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Congratulations! You sold some art from your web site! Now you must figure out how to get it to your buyer. Unless you are hand delivering your work, you will need to ship it to the buyer. To reach your buyer in a condition that does credit to you as an artist there is a real need to select both your shipping method and your packing container carefully. For packing you are going to need a lot of tape, foam core board, acid-free paper, acid-free plastic bags and foam peanuts. To pack paintings for photographs, first, wrap the art with acid-free paper and tape it together so it doesn’t move. What is acid free paper and why do you need it? Acid-free paper has a pH factor of seven or above. The pH scale is a standard for measuring the acidity or alkalinity of all kinds of products, including paper. Before 1860, paper was usually made of rag or cloth stock and high-end expensive stationary is still made this way. After 1860, paper mills began using ground up wood and mixing it with acids and bleach to save costs, all of which have a low pH factor and react with air and water to produce acidic composites. Why use acid free paper? The acidic compounds found in non-acid free paper can migrate to your art and cause decay and damage. In the short time it now takes to ship to your buyer acidic compounds probably won’t cause much damage; however, they may still leave a residue on your work that can cause it to deteriorate over time especially if your buyer doesn’t clean the work immediately after it arrives.

If the art is unframed canvas or sheet paper, you will need to make sure that it isn’t bent or folded by rough handling during shipping. In 2012, Popular Mechanics conducted an experiment to see how packages were  handled by Fed-Ex, UPS and the Postal Service. According to their published results, the package was dropped around three times and flipped an average of seven times per trip. Putting “Fragile” or “This End Up” did NOT increase the care handling the package got; in fact messages like this seemed to make no difference at all. Not that most of these delivery people will be deliberately be careless, but then there wasthat internet video of one of them tossing a flat screen TV over a fence when he couldn’t open the gate… How do you avoid this happening to your expensive art? After wrapping your work in the acid-free paper mentioned above, add a tough, lightweight reinforcement to help prevent bending (extra thick cardboard or foam core works) on each side of the art. Then slip artwork in an acid-free plastic bag to help make it water resistant, and wrap the whole thing in bubble wrap and tape so it won’t move. Why do you need to use an acid-free bag when you are already using acid free paper? When the plastic bag touches your acid-free paper, acid migration can still occur. Acid migration is what happens when acid from one object touches another. Acid migration is particularly dangerous to photographs. Chances are the acid-free paper you bought can still be contaminated by non-acid free plastic because the paper doesn’t have a seal. The acid free bag will seal off the art from contamination by the rest of the packing materials and help prevent water damage. Next, make sure you fill the entire packing container with shipping peanuts or bubble wrap so there is no extra space.

Should You Ship Art With A Frame?Personally, I don’t ship framed art unless it is for a show; and I avoid shipping anyart that is under glass, because if the package is damaged during shipping, the frame itself  could survive  unbroken yet your art could be ruined by broken glass sliding around and cutting or scratching it. If you mustship framed art, then protect the corners with edge guards and substitute plexi for glass. If the buyer wants glass, request that they take it to a framer in their area and get it changed. The other solution would be to ship to a local framer in the buyer’s area and arrange for the buyer to pick up the art after it has been framed.

Since the above study by Popular Mechanics didn’t find much difference in handling packages with the three most popular shipping companies, you need to decide to whether use them or employ a company that specializes in shipping art, which could be expensive. However, if you are willing to pay for it, the specialty company may even pack your art for you.

What About Shipping Insurance?Whatever shipping method you use, I  recommend insuring your package and including shipping confirmation. I highly advocate you ensure your art for the full price in case you must refund the money to the buyer if it doesn’t arrive intact. A high-value insurance cost does usually ensure that the shipping company will take more care of your work because they don’t want to pay damages.

Tracking The Package.If you are shipping inside the U.S., then you should always get shipping confirmation. Unfortunately, I did discover when I shipped a painting to a buyer in Canada that I could only track it as far as the border, so I don’t recommend paying extra for confirmation if you are shipping out of the U.S. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/301/~/mail—tracking-lost-or-missing-packages, CBP doesn’t have the abilityto track packages across the border. Occasionally a border station will hold a package for another government agency but we regular folks are just SOL. That painting I shipped across the border into Canada? The cost of shipping was almost as much as the buyer paid for it!

Speaking for myself, I now include a note on my website that I don’t ship originals out of the U.S. due to the high costs.

For more information on this subject, I can recommend: https://reddotblog.com/how-to-ship-paintings-a-step-by-step-guide-for-artists-and-galleries/

 

Good Luck!

Gail

 

 

TO DONATE ART, OR NOT TO DONATE…THAT IS THE QUESTION

Published January 27, 2020 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

The phone rings, and some well-meaning fundraiser on the other end wants you to donate a work of art to their charity auction. Usually this goodhearted fundraiser will promise you a tax deduction, great exposure, enhanced publicity, and public exposure if you agree; sadly, most volunteer fundraisers don’t know what they are talking about as far as the actual benefits to you as an artist. Should you do it? This really depends on several things; how much do you support the cause itself? Are the benefits going to out-weigh the costs?

Well lets deal with the tax deduction benefit first. It’s not great. Generally speaking, you as the artist are allowed to deduct only the cost of creation (materials, etc.) unless you have had an appraisal done by a qualified art expert. This is no problem if you are a big name artist whose art is going to bring in thousands of dollars to the charity because the charity will usually have the art appraised by their expert, which you can then attach to your taxes. However, if you are donating to your child’s school, your church, local hospital, etc. chances are the charity is not going to pay for this appraisal because they can’t afford it. Sometimes the charity is worthwhile (in fact most of the time), but unless they follow my rules for donation, what they are really doing is training whoever comes to their event to devalue my art and disrespect me as an artist. This may sound really harsh but it has been proven to be true.

The next two items typically promoted by fundraisers are “enhanced publicity and public exposure” which sounds really good, but what exactly are they actually talking about? A line in the auction catalog and announcing your name when they bring up your art? Please. Remember that most of the fundraisers who do telephone contacts are volunteers with no actual experience in the field. In other words they really have no idea what they are talking about. Enhanced publicity should mean your name in the newspaper, on the radio or on the charity’s Facebook page with a link to your website. Public exposure should mean that instead of just pointing to your art and asking for bids, the auctioneer talks about you, what awards you’ve won, how good the art is, etc. to encourage the audience to bid higher. He or she should also mention your web site, and the brochures advertising you as an artist, which should have been available when the bidders were doing the walk-through.

Predictably, at most of these charity events, they practically give away the art because the bidders are not art collectors, they are there to support the charity and are looking for two things—something they can afford to bid on to satisfy their tax deduction and to support the charity. A lot of them might be even comparing your fine art to canvas prints they can get at Walmart! Auctioning your art for much less than you normally sell for undermines the art market in general, and makes it seem as if the artist (you!) didn’t deserve the real selling price. Another negative side effect is to encourage your regular collectors and potential buyers to wait for events like this to buy your art cheaper than they could if they purchased it directly from you.

The “public exposure”thing is problematical; unless the auctioneer makes a really big deal about your art business and how valuable your work is, everyone present is likely to still think you have a nice hobby. I was once asked by my church to design a poster/logo for a women’s retreat. When the event coordinators husband saw it he remarked to her that it looked like a “real” artist had done it. I find that no matter how good the art I donate to their event is, my circle of acquaintances, people in my church, my children’s school and my family almost all still believe that my art is a hobby, so I don’t donate unless the charity agrees to the following ground rules:

  • I set a minimum price for original art. If it doesn’t sell, I get it back. This is absolutely essential because unless you have an appraisal from a respectable appraiser attached to the art; all that you can take off on your taxes is the cost of material used to create the art (the actual raw canvas and paint supplies).
  • I qualify the event by making sure there will be folks there who can actually afford to purchase the art (this means getting actual names of who will be attending or at least who has been invited), and that the event will be well publicized: this means actual ads on TV, Internet, and Radio, hopefully with a mention of the art you are donating.

Once charities learned I stuck to these rules, I found that the requests dropped off dramatically. This doesn’t mean that I am wholly against art donations; I do donate my art to worthwhile charities, but I find that it usually pays better tax deduction-wise to donate a good quality print than the original. If you donate a print, you can deduct the entire printing cost, framing and matting which is a much better deal for tax purposes. To sweeten the pot for prospective buyers, I do always sign prints that I donate, and make sure I tape information about myself, my website and the art to the back of the print.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Published January 13, 2020 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Framing On A Budget – Part 5

Framing fine art can enhance the overall appeal of a piece of artwork. The drawback is if you don’t frame yourart wisely it can ultimately ruin the paintings appeal altogether. Choosing the right frame for the right art looks simple, right? Step one is choosing the right type of frame. Wood or Metal? Wide or Narrow? The most important rule is to make sure the frame you choose doesn’t clash or overpower your art. A too-small frame around a large painting or a large frame around a small artwork can overpower it and ruin the presentation. So first consider what type of art you will be framing and decide what type of frame will make the best presentation of your art. When choosing a frame it may be helpful to take the art with you and put it behind the frame choices. Ask yourself, what is the first thing you notice about the painting? Is it the art or the frame? If it is the frame, then you should consider selecting a different frame. If it isn’t practical to bring the art with you because of the size, you are going to have to use some imagination. Personally, I have found that the simpler the frame, the more attention is drawn to the art. There is a wide variety of ways out there to frame photos and other art. It may be a good idea to assess putting your art into a frame with as much consideration as you took with the actual painting. After all, your painting and its frame are going to be spending a long timetogether, so it is important to make sure they are a good match.

Types Of Frames: Frames loosely fall into three categories: traditional (often wood frames with some embellishment such as ornate carving, Oriental accents, appliqué curlicues, or canvas or linen inserts), modern (metal or ultra-plain wood, perhaps only a sliver of it showing as you face the picture) and transitional (minimal ornamentation with a moderate amount of frame showing on its face). Frames designed for canvas (oils or acrylics) usually have a linen mat and then a small wooden piece rounding off the inside frame, although some more modern frames have dispensed with this feature. Metal frames with glass or plexi-glass and a thick paper mat are generally used with watercolors or pastels. A word of warning here: most pastel artists prefer not to use plexi-glass because static electricity is picked up from it and the pastel chalk may be attracted away from the paper and onto the plexi-glass. Don’t underestimate a good frame; I have assisted at many art shows and I can’t remember how many times I overheard a judge say “The art is good, but that frame just (ruins, overpowers, clashes, etc.) it. Framing and matting should enhance and compliment your art. Have you seen the effect an ornate baroque frame on an abstract painting? Or maybe a steel frame on a lovely still life or floral caught your eye? Not Pretty was it.

Matting: The correct mat can enhance the appearance of a frame, hence your art. While some modern frames or Plein Aire frames come without mats, traditionally most art frames include some type of mat. A simple rule for choosing a mat is, do you like the look of it around your art. Usually, you want to select a lighter tone or neutral color than the dominant color in your art. You can look for a paler version of a color that is within the painting itself. If the mat color is too dark or too busy with designs, it will overshadow the image and detract from the art. Check the proportions of the mat to your art. If your framed art looks off, then your mat maybe either too big or too small. Black mats can be powerful, but be careful. They are so dark they will overpower most art.

The back can be as important as the front in an art show. I once saw a judge reject a lovely piece of art because she didn’t like the way the frame appeared on the back! Very seldom is art left naked on the back. While the backs of Oils are sometimes not covered in order to allow the canvas to breathe (oils take a long time to dry), most framed paintings have a backing. The most commonly used material is acid free brown paper but more decorative types can be used.

Gallery Wrap Framing. Gallery wrap does not have a conventional frame; in fact the edges of the art are painted and left bare to the eye, sometimes giving a wraparound effect to the art. A gallery wrap canvas is stapled on the back of the stretcher bars so the staples can’t be seen. Historically gallery wrap has had a wider edge than regular canvas (1-1/2” to 2” wide). Some confusion has arisen recently because art stores have begun selling canvas that is ¾’ wide and calling it gallery wrap since it is stapled on the back and not on the sides. FYI here, most commercial stores no longer sell any canvases stapled on the side. Be warned about this type of “gallery wrap”: many art shows and galleries do not consider this “true” gallery wrap and will not accept them into a show or gallery unframed. Another type of Gallery Wrap is not canvas but clayboard, ampersand board or gesso board. These also come in the 1-1/2” to 2” wide varieties called “deep cradle”, and can be painted around the edges and so considered gallery wrap. Typically this type of Gallery Wrap can also less expensive than some canvas sizes and so preferred by artists on a limited budget.

Gallery wrap is a preferred arrangement with certain types of art where frames would detract from the presentation, such as triptychs (three paintings presented as one) or multiple pieces of art that must be presented as a unit.

Showing Professionally.If you are planning to enter your work in art shows you can run into pitfalls with poor framing or the system used to hang your work. Hardware and art stores sell a wide variety of systems to hang art and while they will all work in a home setting, some of them are not suited to venues where there is a lot of public traffic. Most art shows have very specific framing dos and don’ts about how art is to be hung and they will only accept art that meets these standards. The following is typical:  Flat hangers only, no Saw-tooth, eyelet hangers or quick frames and no screw eyes. The ends of the wire must be taped or sleeved.  Screws for hanging must be no more than 4” inches from the top of the frame and the wire must not show over the top of the frame.Some shows and Galleries will accept the wide edge Gallery Wrap, some will not.

Art for The Home or Décor Market: Keep in mind also that framing art to go in the home or office as a decorator accent is not the same as show presentation. In show presentation, if the judge notices the mat before the art you may be in trouble. In the decorator market, you want a frame and mat to go with the style and colors chosen by the decorator for the room. Often, the decorator will pick the mat and frame to go with or compliment the colors in the room, not necessarily the painting.

REPAIRING A PLASTER FRAME

Published January 6, 2020 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Framing On A Budget – Part 4

As I stated earlier, I don’t recommend re-fitting ornate Plaster Of Paris frames. However, if it means the difference between repairing an existing frame you already own and purchasing a new one there is a way to fix chipped or broken edges. First, I want you to notice that on most plaster frames such as the one shown in the photo, there is a repeating pattern on the corners and sides. To do this repair, you will need to make a clay mold of the unbroken matching side of the frame, fill it with plaster and use the new piece to repair the broken side.

What kind of clay should you use to make your mold?

The easiest clay to work with is made by Crayola and it air dries. Soft and pliable, Crayola Air-Dry (brand name) modeling clay allows the formation stable arts and crafts without the need for an oven or kiln. Smoother, finer, and less sticky than traditional clay, Air-Dry Clay softens easily with water and is a quick clean up. It’s ideal for traditional methods. It works just fine for this type of quick project and doesn’t require much more than your kitchen table and sink as a workspace. Most art supply houses carry it, or you can order it from http://www.dickblick.com/products/crayola-air-dry-clay/.

Working with Plaster of Paris

Plaster of Paris is a great material to use for basic sculptures and craft projects because it is easy to prepare and sets in a few minutes. Mixing Plaster of Paris is easy. The powder is very light and fine. to avoid getting the powder to the eyes and nose, wear a dust mask. Never mix Plaster of Paris with your bare hands.

Cover your work area with a plastic mat or with newspapers. Find a mixing container (preferably a disposable one) that will hold the size of the concoction you intend to make up.
The ideal ratio for the mixture is 2 parts Plaster of Paris to 1 part water.

Mixing Steps

Start with the water. Measure out the Plaster of Paris in another container. Break up any lumps of powder with a spoon.

Start adding the Plaster of Paris powder to the water in your mixing container by sprinkling or sifting the powder over the water. Do not add the powder in one clump; instead try to sprinkle the powder over as much area as you can.

Do not mix yet. Instead, tap the side of your mixing container with a spoon to disperse the powder into the water and remove any air bubbles.

Continue adding the Plaster of Paris, patting the sides of the container as you add the powder. Your cue to stop is when you notice that the powder has almost covering the surface and is no longer being as easily absorbed. Gently blend the Plaster of Paris mixture until it reaches a smooth consistency. Do not stir strongly or you may create air bubbles.

*If colored Plaster of Paris mixture is desired, add some poster paint once the mixture is free of lumps and has a smooth consistency. Continue mixing from side to side until the color is uniformly dispersed.

Allow the mixture to stand for a minute before pouring it into your mold. Don’t attempt to wash your left over residue down the drain! It will clog your pipes! Left over mixture should be allowed to harden and then thrown into the garbage can.

Using the Mold

Step 1: find the broken pattern on the side of the frame or corner. Using plaster carving tools try to make the broken edge as flat as possible.

Step 2: make a clay mold of the opposite unbroken side. You can find the instructions for making a simple clay mold on this site: http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Clay-Mold/

Soften the clay and then push it onto the unbroken side of the frame. You should use a large enough piece of clay so that when you turn the mold over, it will fit squarely on a flat surface. If the clay has dried before you pour the plaster, it might be wise to take the precaution of spraying the inside of the mold with cooking spray. If you do this, take a small brush or Q-tip and smooth out any bubbles in the oil before pouring the plaster. Allow the plaster to set.

Step 3: Fill it with Plaster of Paris and let it set hard, peel off the mold and glue the replacement piece to the broken place. Since it is on the opposite side, you will probably need to reverse it in order for it to fit properly.

It will also be necessary to fit the new piece to the broken space by doing some scraping with plaster knives and probably some sanding once it is glued down to make the new piece fit smoothly with the frame. I then recommend re-painting or if you are using gold leaf covering the entire frame for better color matching.

 

REFURBISHING A USED FRAME

Published December 30, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Framing On A Budget – Part 3

Refinishing FramesThe first thing you are going to need is an outdoor workspace. Refinishing frames is messy, and the materials used need good ventilation. You may also want to invest in a folding table that can be put up when not in use.

MATERIALS NEEDED

To repair a wooden frameyou will need, shop rags, a box knife, painters tape, small can of wood putty, a hammer, screwdriver, small woodscrews, finish nails, glue, wood stripper, paint or stain (probably both), sandpaper (both fine and coarse), a putty knife or plastic scraper, and sponges and brushes for applying the stripper, stain or paint and clear wood varnish. Gloves to protect your hands from the paint stripper and a mask for the fumes are also going to be needed. You may not use all of these; it depends on the type of repairs you are planning to do to the frame.

To repair a metal frame, you will need ), shop rags, sandpaper (both fine and coarse), metal primer, a mask to protect yourself from paint fumes, protective goggles, several cans of spray metal paint (matte finish) and can of clear metal varnish. Gloves to protect your hands from the paint are also going to be needed.

REPAIR & REFURBISHING

Metal Frame: begin by taking the glass or plexi out of the frame and setting it aside in a safe place. You will be re-using it so make sure you put it somewhere it won’t be damaged while you are working. Remove any backing or hanging system attached and examine the frame carefully. Sand out any rust spots using the coarse sandpaper and follow up by smoothing with the fine sandpaper. Depending on the deepness of the scratches you may elect to use either grade of sandpaper to smooth out any scratches. Wipe the frame to remove any excess dust left over from sanding. Lay the frame out flat and spray with primer using a side-to-side motion allow to dry and repeat until completely covered. Do NOT rush this process.Applying too many coats of paint too fast will cause it to run! Allow the primer to dry overnight and repeat process with the metal paint using the same technique on the 2ndday. The next day you may apply the clear varnish. On the fourth day you can replace the glass or plexi into frame andWallah! You have a ready to use frame!

Wood Frame:begin by removing any canvas, hanging hardware and leftover backing paper from the frame. Do any repair work requiring nails or screws and then cover the linen mat with the painters tape, cutting off any excess tape in the corners with the box knife. Remove any sharp edges on the front of the frame by sanding them smooth. If you plan to re-stain the frame, follow the directions on the wood stripper for removing the varnish. This will cause the wood to swell a little bit. Let it dry overnight and then touch up with the sandpaper. Wipe the frame clean of any sanded residue, fill any cracks or holes with wood putty you have prepped by adding the stain to match the color (if you are going to paint over it, it isn’t necessary to prep the wood putty with color). Wipe off any excess stain and allow it to dry overnight (staining may also cause the wood to swell). The next day smooth over any raised edges left over from the stain before applying the coat of clear varnish. Allow the varnish to set overnight. If you have painted the frame you can skip this step, although the extra varnish coat will provide some protection, it will also tend to show scratches later. You are now ready to repair the mat.

The Linen Mat:remove the painters tape from the mat and apply new strips of tape to the newly varnished or painted frame. If there is a dark stain, you may want to apply a small mixture of household bleach to the stain before repainting it. Once the stain is gone, rinse off the bleach with a soft sponge and allow the linen to dry. If the mat is torn use a small amount of glue and press it down firmly, making sure there are no lumps of glue left.

To paint the linen mat I find that Acrylic paints work best. After selecting your color (I prefer either Unbleached Titanium or Parchment) Thin and extend acrylic paint with a textile medium or water. Many artists prefer to a water-soluble medium to produce a smoother finish to the final product. You want the paint to be thin but not runny. Using a small brush, lightly apply several coats of this mixture to the linen mat, allowing to dry between coats. Once you are satisfied with the color remove the painters tape from the wood part of the frame and you are ready to frame your art.

HOW DO YOU LET BUYERS KNOW WHO YOU ARE?

Published December 9, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Promoting yourself as an artist or a writer is hard work. Don’t expect someone else to look out for your interests. Does this promotion time take time away from creating your work? Yes, it does. unless you are very, very lucky if you don’t spend at least some time per week marketing yourself and your work, you will make very few sales.

What methods can be used to promote your art?

There are nuts and bolts types of promotion, flyers, advertising on TV/Radio, etc. And there is the Internet. Flyers and advertising are more time consuming and they cost more money that using the internet. A 1% return response to a typical mail campaign is considered a good response.

Most of the internet is free but typically, a pay-per-click ad on Google or Facebook (an ad where you pay only when a viewer clicks on the ad) is usually around 2 cents a click. The ads run automatically until you run out of the money you allocated. If you are doing your own promoting, to better utilize the time spent on social networks, make a list of what you expect to accomplish to promote your art that day, and then strictly compartmentalize what to do there.

For myself, I schedule 2 hours per week for business. At the end of the two hours I am done, whether or not I actually accomplished everything on my list. The 2ndthing is not to do purely social things while promoting your business. Schedule a different time to catch up with friends and family on your social networking site.

In this day and age, the internet is an essential tool for Artists. Art buyers will often first check out an artist’s website for information before picking up the phone to call directly. A website is also useful because it should show how to contact you. Since the general public now spends an average of 4 hours online daily, why shouldn’t they spend it with your art or your books?

Social networking sites like Pinterest and Facebook now have Business pages you can add to your regular networking sites. There are also plenty of free build-your-own-website hosting sites out there now. Because these sites are supported by the ads they run, ads will appear on your site also. Play around until you find a user friendly one that includes optimizing your site for mobile searches. I recommend Yola.com.

Many authors cross-promote each other’s books to gain visibility with a relevant new audience of readers. It’s a mutually beneficial way to inexpensively boost book sales and word-of-mouth buzz — and to make new friends and build relationships in the publishing community. You can also reach out to other authors in your area and join with them in group book signings. Go to the Local Writer section of your local library and see who has book there. You can then search out their social media sites and their web site to get in touch with them.

There are also sites set up for writers such as www.Bookfunnel.comwhere writers can join with other writers who produce books in the same genre to promote their books. These promotions are usually no charge, but they do require a writer to share the promotion on both social media and with their e-mail list. The site has two distinct type of promotions; one is a newsletter builder (readers sign up to join your list) and the other is a sales promotional page for e-books. FYI the newsletter page involves giving away a free e-book. This is an inexpensive way to encourage readers to join your e-mail list.

 

 

Earning Residual Income With Your Work

Published December 2, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

We may as well admit it: all of us secretly want to not only create fabulous art but want the public to appreciate it so much they pay us fabulous prices for it. The wonderful thing about making prints of our work is it a way to earn residual income on our art. If an artist sells a painting for $500 that is a one-time fee; if that same artist also sells 20 prints for $15 each then they have earned a total of $800 on that same painting. Naturally as an artist, you want any reproductions of your art to reflect the quality of the art itself, which means you want to make the best quality reproductions you can find. I have had several artists ask me where they can get good quality prints made at a reasonable price. It’s a good question. There are two ways to go with this: make the prints yourself or get them made professionally.

If you are planning to make them yourself, besides the printer, you will need a good quality camera that takes high-resolution photos (Canon Rebel is excellent but there are others out there). I don’t recommend a point-and-shoot camera or your cell phone if you intend to make professional looking reproductions; although the smart phone photo quality is improving, I did notice that quality seemed to suffer with larger size prints. I would also recommend a good photo-editing program such as Photoshop Elements. I chose Elements because it will service either Apple or PC computers, the basic editing techniques are simple and it does have tutorials.

A printer that prints on a variety of paper products is essential if you are making your own prints. What brand of printer makes the best prints? Well, there are a lot of differing opinions on this, all having to do with what kind of ink will give you the truest colors, how easy they are to use, whether to use ink jet or laser printers, etc. Making the prints yourself does mean that you are probably going to be limited to paper and the sizes you can make; most home printers will only take legal or letter size paper. The printer that gave me the very best prints I ever made at home was an inexpensive Kodak printer. Unfortunately it proved too fragile to last long. Epson, Brother and HP all make good machines that will give you nice paper prints. You can even obtain letter size “canvas paper’ for printing on the internet, although I wasn’t really happy with the quality of the prints I made with it on my home printer. If you are going to make prints yourself, you should consider the cost of the ink. Many ink jet printers devour ink pods like a T-Rex. If you make a lot of reproductions, Ink jet refills can be so expensive that you might find it less costly to get your prints made by a print shop. Laser printers also make good quality prints, but a color laser printer and the toner to go with it can also break your budget. You will need to decide if the cost of the printing will allow you to still make sales at a profit.

The next option is to have your prints made by a professional printer. I am speaking here of commercial printers such as Kinkos or CopyMax’s Impress. The photo departments of Costco, Walgreens, Wal-Mart etc. may not give you a professional quality print because their print programs are designed to “flatten or homogenize” color to an “average” standard, however they also will work with you on this issue because they want your return business. Most of them can also do a canvas print mounted on stretcher bars. Again, ask for a proof because if you have vibrant, saturated or delicate shades you may find your print simply doesn’t reflect these qualities.

To use an outside printer you need a high-resolution jpeg or other type of photo of your work. If you are not a photographer, I suggest you arrange to have a professional take the photo in order to ensure that the photo has no distortions and that the color is true to the original art. You can have the photo transferred to either a jump drive or disc. An issue with having your prints made by someone else that doesn’t come up with DIY (Do It Yourself) printing: calibrating their printer to your photos. Calibrating a printer has nothing to do with the printer type; it has to do with communication between the computer and the printer. Even if the photo from your thumb disc looks okay on their computer screen, the print may still come out darker or lighter than your art. Always ask for a proof before accepting the print because it may be necessary for you to take your disc or jump drive home so that you can adjust the lighting or color of the photo in order to make the print “true” to the original when using an outside printer. If you do this, always save the “adjusted” photo as a separate file and leave the original alone. Making these changes is much easier if you are dealing with a local printer.

The other option for having your prints made is to find a local professional who specializes in making art prints. Here in Fresno we have several but Mullins Photography is the one most favored by local artists. If you bring in your art, they make their own scan and reproduce a print that is virtually identical to the original. Ask other local artists in your area where they get their prints made. Be prepared to open your wallet for this option though; because the cost of the initial set up fee will be more expensive than say Kinkos or Impress. On the other hand, it probably will be a one-time fee for that particular piece of art and the quality will be the best.

You can also order prints from the internet; a number of Internet sites do on-line printing. These sites are sometimes referred to as POD (Print On Demand) sites, and most of them do an excellent job. Fine Art America for instance will not only make your prints on a variety of paper, metal, cards and canvas, but also sell matting and framing and ship to your customer. With on-line printers however, you will have the same difficulties with the calibration as with your local outside printer. Since you can’t demand a proof from this type of site, I would suggest you get a small print made for yourself and adjust the photo. Keep notes on what you did so that you can use them when sending in later prints. The nice thing about most POD sites is your customer may order directly from the site without you having to deal with nasty stuff like figuring out shipping costs.

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